Manchester

A guide inside Manchester's new music: Blogs

D/R/U/G/S at In The City 2010
Image caption D/R/U/G/S have found themselves championed by the blogosphere

Ask any clammy-palmed music journalist, and they'll tell you the same thing: the traditional music press is dying.

It'll take as long as I will to expire, but it's on its way, slowly killed by a thousand cobbled-together music blogs.

You might think replacing such a focal point with an inconsistent slew of personal opinions seems like madness, and in many ways, you'd be right.

But get this: with the click of a mouse, bloggers can sift you into - or out of - their recommendation pile.

Truth is, they could be jabbering about your latest witch house remix to a readership of thousands within minutes - and through networking, you could be heard by hundreds of thousands before breakfast.

But then, like everything else that can be digitised and whelped onto the Internet, music reviews are now democratised, chewed up, bickered over, ignored, aggregated and their content forgotten in a week.

No-one earns any money from writing them - so why do bloggers do it?

And why are they worth your time and attention?

An expert opinion

Matt Britton's excellent and respected blog, The Pigeon Post, has run for nearly three years and has earned him a place as one of the tastemakers asked to tip bands for the BBC Sound Of… music poll.

His face bears the slight world-weariness of every blogger I've ever met - a mixture of frustration, excitement and bewilderment; emotions forced to the surface by self-imposed exposure to one dirge too many.

So why did he begin blogging?

"The reason I started was because I wanted to get into more new music, more things that I wouldn't usually have listened to.

"I've never made any money myself - and I doubt you have either."

We both pause on this truism, then I push on: why should a band get in touch with a blogger?

"It's something I ask myself; given that I get about 500 hits a day, it's quite a limited crowd.

"But as a band, you have to grow yourself and it's about generating the right kind of hype.

"Some bands - Hurts, for example - needed a lot of money to do it, but others like No Age, Crystal Castles and Health have made their own.

"With them, there's a DIY feel and because they've controlled it themselves, they have a kind of independence."

'An insular world'

That's something you can only really do through blogs, which is why they have a confusing half-power, half-meaninglessness.

Image caption Matt blogs about new bands on an almost daily basis on The Pigeon Post

By dealing with an individual, you may only expose your music to 500 people, but those readers pay more attention.

"It is an insular world, but that's a good thing; the people who read blogs are often the people who also write blogs - but they will then shout louder about the music.

"Rather that than getting a single play on the radio; if people like you, it'll gain its own momentum."

And you could end up being on Hype Machine (MP3 and music blog aggregator) and be quickly splashed all over the vast and weighty American blogs without even trying - or intending to.

"Take D/R/U/G/S, for example - exactly that happened to them.

"Jamila [Manchester blogger] is friends with the band, and because I know her, I listened to their songs, thought they were amazing, blogged about them - and that was part of the start of the snowball.

"Even if the people who write blogs might not be influential, the people who read them might be."

'Gut feeling'

Yet for all his desire, Matt finds he has to ruthlessly prune his inbox, simply because of the most basic constraint of all - time.

Image caption Matt helped compile the BBC Sound Of 2011 poll, won by Jessie J

"I cut emails down to the first two lines.

"My favourites are from bands that get in touch who aren't in it for the hype or the attention - they've made some music they were proud of and want to share it.

"A band recently told me that they sounded like 'grimy surf-pop' and I liked that so I listened to them.

"I didn't enjoy them that much, but they got further than most of the other 50 emails I get each day."

Yet time, Matt says, also means that the other uncomfortable truth is bloggers will make a judgement within the first five seconds.

"I hate myself for it - but it's true; the majority of music is rubbish, so if your song stands out, you're probably going to get blogged about.

"But if it opens with generic acoustic guitar jangling," he pulls a face, "well, it's a gut feeling."

But take heart - there are thousands of other blogs to try.

And they can all have as much of an effect on your career as each other - which is to say, nothing at all, stratospheric growth, or everything in-between.

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